What? You thought I wouldn't blog about Chicagoist meeting a sudden demise at the hands of billionaires with a toddler's "take-your-toys-and-go-home" mentality?
Chicagoist was and is a big deal to me. I was there. I was a part of it and what IT was was truly one of Chicago's best. And a community, and a place where I learned a lot from a lot of people. Honestly, it seemed unbelievable most of the time that I was a part of it. I read Chicagoist every day at work- started off with the Around Town gallery they'd post around my lunchtime every day. I still remember when one of the pictures I submitted got in. I was so excited! Then came a resolve to do more things I'd always meant to do, which led to GISHWHES, which I didn't expect to change my life but did. As I've mentioned before, once you're emailing the CEO of Groupon to ask him to send a video of himself doing the Single Ladies dance in his suit for our scavenger hunt, it's not as intimidating to throw your hat in the ring to be an A&E writer.
Jim and Chuck gave me a chance. My first two stories (the testers, if you will) were The Happy Show and Jazzin' at the Shedd. These events happened while I had a really good friend of mine (and a hell of an encouraging presence) in from New Mexico for a visit, so I got to take him with me on these adventures. One of the things I love about this job is that it allows me to bring people along for the ride. I've seen so many amazing things while writing for Chicagoist, and I've gotten to share them with the people I love.
These are things I love to do and wanted to do and got to take some of my best friends to, to boot. It was ways I could take my boyfriend, who is awesome and deserving of such things, to shows on dates that I never could've pulled off either. I mean, we met Weird Al! I was so starstruck that night at the back of the Chicago Theatre I couldn't make sentences happen.
I still remember my very first story. An easy to get to one for a cub Chicagoista - it was at Union Station - a "happening" called Station to Station. I wasn't sure how to dress for a "happening" let alone to blend in with all the press, and I was a huge nerd about being on the press list. I constantly checked my bag for pens and camera batteries and wondered what obvious things I would inevitably be missing or what faux pas I would stumble into as soon as I got there.
I'm sure being a nerd about being on the press list counts as one of those faux pas, but I couldn't have cared less. I saw Thurston Moore unplug when the stage lost power. I explored smoky yurts and ate artisanal sandwiches and watched people make things. And in one of my favorite moments of all time for Chicagoist, I heard Mavis Staples' voice ring out through the entire Great Hall at Union Station. The show was like being at her house on a Sunday in its intimacy, but that voice let loose in that hall with those acoustics were life-changing.
In fact, all of Chicagoist was. I still get imposter syndrome, both for being a writer at Chicagoist and a "writer" at all. I take on projects and do work and wonder when someone will find out I'm not supposed to be where I am. I'm lucky. I'm lucky to have worked the stories I worked. I'm lucky to have been able to call Chicagoist's staff my friends. I'm lucky to have gotten to explore all the things I've explored.
I've been on the roof of the Art Institute, the basement of the Field Museum, the floor for the nerdiest of conventions in Chicago each year. I've heard amazing music, met amazing people and learned from fantastic journalists.
I've gotten to go see what Chicago has to offer, photograph it, write about it and then share it with tons of people, in hopes that they'll find some good stuff, too. Hopefully somewhere in there I've written things that will help people some way - whether that's simply getting to know some of the neat places and faces Chicago has to offer or just having some nerd to relate to.
Above all though, Chicagoist helped me.
I found what I love.
I do the things I love.
It's still work and it always will be.
I have LOTS more work to do.
I've made mistakes, but I've learned from them, too.
It's been an incredible ride, and I'm sad to see it go. Chicagoist was an opportunity, sure, but it also truly was a community, one I loved with all my heart.
I'm grateful to everyone I've ever raised a glass with, shared a GIF or emailed with, and especially grateful to Jim and Chuck who gave me my shot, and Lisa and Rachel who helped me and Chicagoist grow after that, even into things like hard news. You.all.rock.
The world would be stupid not to snatch every last one of you up for something amazing, and I can't wait to see what that is.
Shine on, you crazy diamonds.